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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, Philip Eley talks about writing his self help book to support men struggling with mental health issues, Pull Yourself Together Man.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Philip Eley about his life and career, what inspired him to write his new book, Pull Yourself Together Man, and helping men deal with their mental health issues.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m the Wellbeing lead of a schoolswork charity. I work with teenagers to help them understand their emotional health and find some wellbeing. I’m also an artist, an actor, a gardener and a party animal.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write a book. I was writing books for my family as soon as I could write. Then I joined a writing group while at university and I’ve been going to writer’s groups ever since. My first published book was a book of discussion starters and reflective activities, published in 2012.
When did you take a step to start writing?
At first, I thought I wanted to write fiction and I wrote four or five fiction books before I decided to step into non-fiction, initially with a book of discussion starters and reflective activities. These were things I was already using on a daily basis so it was simply a case of explaining them to people as simply as I could.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
The first book took around 2 years, and then there was a long period of editing which added another 9 months. I had little idea what I was doing so things took quite a long time.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
My latest book was much quicker and the whole thing was achieved in less than a year. After writing a few books, the big difference now is that the editing process is much easier as I get more things right on the first attempt.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Pull Yourself Together Man?
I wanted to write this book for the men who I knew that were struggling with their emotional health and didn’t have effective strategies to deal with it. I’d seen one too many men collapse under the weight of years of ignoring, or distracting themselves from, their own struggles.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Pull Yourself Together Man?
One challenge was talking about mental health, which I know is complicated, in terms which were simple enough for a non-specialist to understand but not so simple that they became reductive, or possibly even worse, that they became irritatingly patronising.
Another challenge was to talk about these things in ways that men, in particular, could relate to. The language around emotions can sometimes seem feminised. I had to imagine chatting to my reader over a pint and think of ways that I could communicate these important things without my imagined reader being put off.
What was your research process for Pull Yourself Together Man?
Most of the background research comes from my own training and years of experience within the field of emotional health. I’ve been trained in various approaches over the years (including CBT, Emotional First-Aid, Trauma Informed Approaches, and Emotional Logic) and all of these theories regularly inform my approach. In addition, I did field research in various ways and interviewed men about their own approaches to wellbeing and emotional health.
How did you plan the structure of Pull Yourself Together Man?
Once I had the central idea of approaching wellbeing like a long-term project the structure fell easily into place. I just considered how I’d approach any long-term project. Deciding to take on the project, understanding the project, starting the project then getting stuck in.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Pull Yourself Together Man need?
I did get support once I had a publisher, but thankfully, there wasn’t a huge amount of editing needed. The structure was right from the start, so only relatively minor re-edits were necessary.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a book?
My first piece of writing advice is to find the topic that you won’t tire of communicating. Think about what always interests you and then think about what it is about that topic that you really want to communicate. Then think how to communicate it as simply and directly as possible.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I’m currently deep into a project around nature and wellbeing. I’m also starting to consider wellbeing and grieving.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Absolutely yes. There are ideas in this book that I’m deeply proud of and I’m burning for them to reach a wider audience. I think I’ve written a book which could be transformative for an audience which doesn’t traditionally engage heavily with self-help books. I’d like to help bring about that change.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Twitter – @PhilipEley1
Instagram – Living Restfully
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